What My Salary Gets Me: A 26-year-old who earns $88,000 and is saving to buy a house.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me asks Australians to record a week in their financial lives. Kind of like a sex diary but with money. So not like a sex diary at all. We still find out the best kept secrets though. We discover what women are really spending their hard-earned cash on. Nothing is too outrageous or too sacred. This week, a 26-year-old from Canberra, ACT, who is saving to buy a house, shares her money diary. 

Age: 26

Industry: Translation

Salary: $88,000 annually and my husband earns $75,000 (not including our super). We completely share our finances so both incomes go into a joint account and we use that for all expenses. Our total after tax pay is about $4400 a fortnight.

Housing: Renting a two bedroom apartment in Canberra, and hoping to buy a property in the next six months, that will be an investment at first but we can move into when we want to upsize.

Regular expenses (fortnightly):

Rent: $680

Internet: $25

Netflix: $6 (sharing with my family)

Electricity: We set aside $60 a fortnight so that when the bill comes we aren’t surprised, and there’s usually a bit leftover that feels like extra money.

Savings: We aim to live on just one income and so we can save 45 per cent of our total income ($2000) every fortnight. We have automatic transfers set up to send money into our savings accounts every payday. At the moment we have $70,000 set aside for a house deposit, $2500 for medical costs, $1800 for car expenses, and $300 for weekend trips and holidays.

Gym membership: $26

Giving: We give away 10 per cent of what we both earn ($440 a fortnight). I know a lot of people would think this is super weird, but it’s something that is important to both of us and it helps us remember that money isn’t everything.

Debt: Around 50k of HECS that I try not to think about, plus about the same for my husband.

Assets: Our car is worth about $7000. We both have super accounts but we don’t pay heaps of attention to this investment at this stage.

Sunday – Day One

We have a slow morning and then treat ourselves to our fortnightly brekky date ($57 for both of us). I spend the morning reading at home and have leftover chilli and rice (yesterday’s dinner) for lunch. I walk to the gym for a quick workout. I do our meal planning and write a shopping list and then my husband does our weekly grocery shop. It costs $116 and it always makes me cringe to see the cost of all the groceries in one hit, but it usually saves us eating out too often during the week. We go to church in the afternoon. He cooks a Moroccan lamb tagine for our dinner, which is delicious.


Daily total: $173

Monday – Day Two

I catch the bus to work because I slept in ($3.05). I start at 8am, so by the time my colleagues arrive at 9am, I’m ready for a coffee. My soy flat white sets me back $4. Leftover tagine for lunch, which tastes even better the second day. I walk home from work while listening to a podcast. I cook dinner with the groceries we already have, and binge watch some Netflix. I send some emails to our mortgage broker so we can progress our loan pre-approval.

Daily total: $7.05

Mamamia staff confess what their debt is. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

Tuesday – Day Three

I wake up on time and walk to work. I resist the urge to buy a coffee and make a strong tea instead. Leftovers for lunch again. My husband cooks soba noodles for dinner, and I go to a class at the gym.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday – Day Four

I walk to work again, happy to be saving money on the bus fare. Another soy flat white ($4). More leftovers for lunch. My husband’s pay arrives in our bank account and is automatically transferred back out into our separate savings account. I come home briefly after work but have to leave for uni right away (I’m working on my masters part-time). We cook a frozen pizza for dinner since it’s such a rushed evening.

Daily total: $4 (and $1800 transferred to our savings account)

Thursday – Day Five

Another bus day this morning ($3.05). I bring coffee from home and I’m very impressed with myself. Luckily we still have enough leftovers from earlier in the week for both of our lunches. My husband gets banana bread from the cafeteria at his work ($5). I walk home from work and cook salmon for dinner.

Daily total: $8.05

Friday – Day Six

I have the day off work to do some study. I get a large coffee at my local cafe while working on my assignment ($5.30) and when I’m walking home a ridiculously expensive croissant tempts me in ($7). I eat lunch at home and have a really productive day of study. I have to order a book for an assignment and it costs $35. The mortgage broker sends through our loan documents to sign – and even though I’m the one that’s been dealing with them and I earn more money AND our savings account is in my name, they still put my husband as “client 1” on the application without asking! I calm my rage at the patriarchy by undertaking unpaid domestic work cooking dinner. Then we watch Netflix and are in bed by 9pm.


Daily total: $47.30

Saturday – Day Seven

We spend the morning at house inspections and it’s exhausting. We’ve seen a couple that we like but we are honestly pretty depressed about how little we can afford within our budget (we are looking at around $600,000). I have a coffee at a cafe in the afternoon and do some more study ($5.30). My husband and I have a “budget meeting” in the evening to work out how we will manage our cash flow once we throw a mortgage in the mix. Since he’s been promoted to “client 1” by our broker, we decide he should take on the administrative burden for a bit, so he scans some more documents and replies to the broker’s emails. We are both too exhausted to do anything social so my husband cooks us dinner at home.

Daily total: $5.30

Weekly total: $244.70 spent and $1800 saved.


We are both ‘savers’ rather than ‘spenders’ and we are really focused on sticking to our budget so we can meet our long term financial goals. The decision to share our finances keeps us both accountable and enables us to live on one income (we are also really privileged to be in a position where our incomes are substantial enough to allow for this). We normally spend a bit more on social activities and eating out when house hunting isn’t draining all our emotional energy and free time.

Please note: The feature image used is a stock photo.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me series drops every Thursday. Want to share a week in the life of your bank account with us (anonymously of course, no judgement here)? Send us your Money Diary to [email protected]

For more What My Salary Gets Me:

What My Salary Gets Me: A 30-year-old lawyer on $92,000, who owns an investment property.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 22-year-old disability worker who spends $1117.75 on pay day alone.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 24-year-old accountant on $70,000 a year, who spends $1500 a month on rent.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 29-year-old on $108,000 a year, with $455,000 in savings.

What My Salary Gets Me: The 36-year-old project manager who spent $3,795 in one week.

What My Salary Gets Me: A Sales Director on $120,000 a year, who refuses to cook.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 34-year-old on $21,400 a year, who has hardly any daily expenses.

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